A Grateful Lesson in Letting go of our Children

If you have grown kids, I’m sure you can relate to this feeling of gratitude. Another timeless parenting lesson in love, sacrifice, and letting go.

Journeys To Mother Love

Letting go of our children reaps a harvest in unexpected ways.

As much as I want it too, time doesn’t stand still. In fact as we age I’ve found that it actually seems to move at a faster pace. Kids grow up, graduate from college, leave the nest, and settle into a new life as they seek independence and start a career or family.

Whether our children choose to live nearby, across the state, or across the country, we will be faced with challenges to our parenting and our ability to let go.

It’s a timeless lesson in love and sacrifice.

My older son graduated from college a few years ago and, because of a lucrative job offer, immediately moved out of state. There was no time for transition between the two major milestones.

It was a crazy time for my husband and me as parents. We experienced the pride of his graduation and excitement for his new life. We packed…

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Parenting a Teen with ADHD ~ The Journey toward Graduation

Maybe you think ADHD is just a label and isn’t even a real diagnosis.  I fell into that category myself in the past, have struggled with it for years, and didn’t really chose to learn how to live with it.  My denial was great.

Being diagnosed with ADHD is a life-altering event and commonly leads to an identity crisis that can be devastating to adults.  (I’ve lived through that as well.)

What is on my heart about this today is to write a bit about the journey and the challenges we have faced in our home with a teen who has ADHD.  Maybe in doing so others will seek treatment for themselves or someone in their family.  And maybe it will garner more empathy for those who have ADHD.

school daydreaming

I haven’t written much about this because of my own personal struggles with it.  At times it feels like a curse. However, as I’ve come alongside my son, I’ve learned to give myself grace and accept him in his struggles as well. My son agreed to my writing this post, and helped me with it as well. Out of respect for his privacy, I won’t use his name (although he didn’t mind if I did).

Living with ADHD in High School

We’ve been in the home stretch in our house for the last few weeks.  You know the feeling—the end of the school year rush—late nights working on final projects—preparing for exams—writing papers—band concerts.  The pressure mounted.

It is this way at the end of every semester in our home, not just the school year.

This year is worse because my youngest child is graduating from high school.  Much of the time it feels like my husband and I are also in high school with him.  We remind him of his school commitments.  We regularly check in on his day at school and check-up on his assignments too.  It’s been a lot of work—the total opposite of his older brother.

My son graduates in a few days.  And I felt guilty because until now, it’s been hard for me to get excited.  Don’t get me wrong…I couldn’t be more proud of him and what he has accomplished.  As a parent of a child with a learning disability, it’s been tough to watch his struggle.

homework help

My son was diagnosed with ADHD at the start of high school and we’ve been challenged with how to help him ever since.  He has been through alternative health care regiments, altered his diet, taken supplements, done energy and body work, and completed brain training classes.  I’ve also sought counseling support for the emotional ups and downs in our family and for my own psycho-education.

We didn’t try medication until we ran out of other options and had lost all hope.  The medication has helped to a moderate degree, but it isn’t the panacea that it is made out to be.  As they say in ADHD circles, and I’ve come to learn in my own ADHD struggles, “pills don’t teach skills.”  So this summer, we are planning to work through Smart but Scattered, a book designed to help with executive functioning skills.

A Journey to Diagnosis

Although very intelligent, my son’s grades started to suffer in junior high school.  It was at that time that we started to seriously consider he had ADHD.  But there were unmistakable clues years before.

He doesn’t have the physical hyperactivity that lots of ADHD boys have early on in grade school. He is a quiet sort of young man, who is easily distracted and can’t seem to pay attention to his teachers.  It wasn’t really noticeable when he was young, but I bet if you asked his teachers, they probably would’ve said he had it. Unfortunately that was part of the problem.  Those teachers couldn’t or wouldn’t tell us because it is against the school district policy.

Report CardWhen we finally took him in for testing in the summer before his 10th grade year in school, I had to make copies of my son’s report cards all the way back to Kindergarten.  (It was a good thing that I scrapbook and had all of those documents organized!)  The doctor reviewed her findings with us and pointed out patterns that we hadn’t previously noticed in the life skills areas of his report cards.  There it was as plain as day, clues that he was not fitting in with the other kids, having problems working in groups, and being slow to engage in class.  We had no idea until she connected the dots for us.

But my son knew.  Before going into his first appointment, I sat in the car and talked with him about the possibility of a diagnosis of ADHD.  He calmly said, “Mom, I know I have it.”

“You do!” I said with surprise.  “How do you know that?”

“Because I know people who have it, and I noticed they have some of the same problems.”

We proceeded to have a heart to heart about it, followed by prayer before going in to see the doctor.  One thing I’m still grateful for is the continued ability to talk at a heart level about it.

Unfortunately the medication that was prescribed by that doctor created intense headaches and other symptoms that just made matters worse for him.  We tried other health care options again, until finally settling on a different type of medication for him (and me).

Another thing we learned is that it is a long process to find the right medication and dosage for each patient.

Becoming an Advocate

Getting the official diagnosis started us on a new journey of advocating for our son in school.  We had friends who had been down this road before.  I listened to their stories, took their advice, and sought their prayers.  All the while this was going on, we went down the road of seeking accommodations at his school.

Even with the support of friends, I wasn’t prepared for the battle that laid ahead for my son.  It started with trying to get a Guidance Team meeting with the school.  These meetings included the school psychologist, my son’s guidance counselor, the special education teacher, his teachers, and the principal.  Our first meeting with this team was six weeks into the school year. By this time, he was already treading water to stay afloat in some classes.

Quoting an email I received from the school psychologist back in 2012, the purpose of the Guidance Team meeting was “to determine to what extent, if any, the diagnosed condition may create a disability, and if there is a disability as a result of the diagnosed condition, does that disability create a substantial limitation for the student which would then have us consider if he is eligible for any type of support plan.”

parent advocateThe phrase “substantial limitation” was underlined by the school psychologist, not me.  That phrase came to be the basis for an uphill battle for the entire school year.  My heart ached for my son as the minimal accommodations he received didn’t help release the pressure he felt to try and keep up with his assignments.  It wasn’t until the middle of his junior year that significant accommodations finally made a difference for him, allowing him to get passing grades in his hardest subjects.

I personally attribute that to the change in the school psychologist.  The new psychologist understood my son’s disability and was sympathetic to his cause.  At one point in time, when I was losing hope again, I reached out to her.  Her openness to anonymously sharing the experiences of other students with ADHD led us back to medication for my son, and ultimately a plan that got him to this point in his high school career.

You know your kids better than anyone, so advocate, advocate, advocate for them.

Finishing Well

In a few days, my son will receive his hard earned high school diploma.  His diploma not only represents an academic milestone, it represents to a large degree the building up of his character.

We are looking forward to celebrating.  It is a celebration of his perseverance and his ability to integrate and learn more about himself—his strengths and his weaknesses.

My son will have ADHD for the rest of his life.  My hope and prayer is that this journey through high school has prepared him to advocate for his needs and to embrace his ADHD as a part of his unique giftedness.

I know I have learned a lot through these years as well.  I faced my own mothering deficiencies, was stretched outside of my comfort zone, and experienced valuable lessons in trusting God.  My son has helped me to be a better parent and to work through my own struggles with ADHD.

We did it together.  

I’m proud he finished well. 

Congratulations Son!

Want more information about ADHD, check out any of the resources below:

Keeping our Loved ones’ Memories Alive, Part 1

Every year I mark the anniversary of my mother’s passing by writing her a letter.  For the past two years I’ve published excerpts of those letters online to model healing and vulnerability, and hopefully to inspire others to do the same.  Those posts still rank among the most popular posts I’ve written.

JVB TributePreparing to Write

This year’s letter, written on the eve of the 4th anniversary of her passing, was just as hard to write as the few before.  I warned my family days in advance that I would need some time to myself to do this annual practice.  I had hoped to get away and work on the tribute scrapbook I started after her passing, but those plans fell through as well.

My family went out for the evening leaving me alone with my laptop and Zoe, our miniature Schnauzer and my faithful companion.  In the past I had written her about the changes I was going through internally, and the decision I made to take medication for my ADHD.  The latter decision was only possible because I had finally dealt with my fears of medication due in part to what I witnessed in her lifelong struggle with mental illness and psychiatric drugs.

What to Write About

This year, I pondered why I was writing her again.  Was it a healthy thing to do—write a letter to a deceased person?  I knew that letter writing was a good tool for healing.  I used it before in my spiritual and recovery related classes.  But what was the purpose in writing an annual letter?  I sat with that indecision briefly, prayed about what was on my heart, and proceeded to pen my longest letter yet to my mother.  (It seems I had a lot to say!)

Our happy family, before mom’s nervous breakdown, circa 1964.

Growing up without the emotional stability and attachment from my mother has left me longing in many areas of my life.  I’ve gotten some of those maternal needs met through my Sisters in Christ and my long journey to love with my stepmother as well.  Questions still linger though that are specific to my family of origin and what I didn’t get from her.

For instance, my mother spent many years seeing a psychiatrist.  She never shared what happened in those sessions.  I do know it was something that she looked forward to every week.  I’ve re-entered the therapeutic process myself to deal with the effects of my ADHD and to support my son’s similar struggles.  I too have come to look forward to those weekly visits and have more empathy for what my mother must’ve been going through.  I imagine it was her lifeline, as my counseling sometimes feels like it is for me.

Reading my Letter

I chose to read my letter to my counselor and ask her my nagging question:  “Is this healthy?”

She loved my question and enjoys watching how I am integrating the challenges I am facing as I come to terms with my ADHD.  Her response to my question was a resounding “yes!”  She went on to explain how my letters are catalysts for continued healing from my mother wound (by offering my forgiveness) and is bringing great revelation into who I am as a person (and connecting it to my mother).  Those were welcome words to someone who at times feels like I am walking around in a state of disequilibrium.

The main point I finished my letter with was how my mother’s faith changed mine as well:

“The faith steps that I took to minister to you in your final months, and to bury you, gave me such a depth of trust in the Lord.  It brought me back to Him in ways that I wouldn’t have possibly considered in the past.

It led me to Spain (and France), not just to meet Rosa and see the sights, but to pray for His people there.  He prepared me for that and met me there…

Prayers sent heavenward in the French Alps, Sept. 2014.

Prayers sent heavenward in the French Alps, Sept. 2014.

…If I have any legacy or fruit of righteousness that will grow in those countries, you will have it too.  Your faith planted the seeds for me.  I hope you are privy to that now and have a glimpse into what lies ahead for the Church. 

…Thank you Mom for your faith, for investing in me when I was young, and fighting the good fight until the end.  Your story is important.  I pray that in time, I can share it to a larger audience, and that it inspires others to embrace forgiveness and healing so that they too may live with the eternal Hope that comes from Above.

Love,
Ardis”

In Part 2 of this post series, I’ll address other benefits of this annual practice and introduce you to another author who has been doing this for over 30 years.

You Can’t Always Get What You Want

I borrowed the title for this post from the 1969 song written by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones.  Not that the Rolling Stones are a source of spiritual wisdom or Godly counsel, but these words are in line with scripture.  The song goes on to say “but if you try sometimes, you might find, you’ll get what you need.”

Click above image to view concert performance of this song by the Rolling Stones.

Click above image to view concert performance of this song by the Rolling Stones.

I have one simple example that has been running through my mind a lot these days as we transitioned our son Evan from college graduate to gainful employment 500 miles and two states away from home.  It started when he was a senior in high school going through the daunting college admission process.

Playing the College Game

Evan had taken a very challenging schedule of AP classes throughout high school.  Before that he attended the full-time gifted program offered in our school district.  It was a place ripe with talk and preparations for students to attend the top colleges in the nation.

We, and my son, bought into that dream until just before the first colleges started to send out their admission decisions.  We knew the odds were not necessarily in his favor, but we also knew how bright he was.  After much prayer, I started to have an inner sense that he may not get accepted.

usnewsbestcolleges2012_360_191God’s Ways are Higher

The morning before the first decisions were to be posted online, my devotional reading was based on Isaiah 55:8-9, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord.  “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

I knew God was preparing me for the rejection, which in turn helped me to provide guidance and encouragement to my son.  The rejections and waitlist letters came one after the other.  It was a difficult time for him, and for us.  There was much disappointment.

IMG_8136Four years later, with the clarity of time and perspective, we can see how God turned that heartache into a huge blessing for my son.  It started with an award of a scholarship and direct admittance into the department that he ended up majoring in earlier this month.  That major was not something he had previously considered as a career.  Yet this week he started a full-time position in his chosen field at one of the top companies in the computer chip industry.

A Lesson in Trusting God

Shortly after these events happened and while still in high school, Evan submitted an essay for a scholarship with the writing prompt of ‘trust.’  His essay quoted Proverbs 3:5-6, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.”  While he wasn’t awarded that scholarship, his essay did reflect a humbling posture and ability to move on with a new sense of purpose.

I thank God that Evan didn’t get what ‘we’ wanted for him.  Instead our son got the educational opportunities he needed to succeed.  He (we) also got a valuable lesson in seeking God’s will and trusting Him.  He learned firsthand that the Lord provides us with what we need, and not necessarily what we want (from Matthew 6:25-34, not the Rolling Stones).  I hope and pray he carries that lesson with him as he launches into this new season of adulthood.

Congratulations Evan and to the Class of 2014!

Congratulations Evan and to the Class of 2014!

This post is listed on Christian Mommy Blogger/Fellowship Fridays and Missional Women/Faith Filled Friday.

 

A Journey to Stepmother Love

Mother Love comes in many ways, shapes and sizes: birth moms, adopted moms, foster moms, grandmothers, aunts, sisters, and girlfriends. For me, it unexpectedly came from a stepmother that I didn’t openly embrace from the start. Here’s a bit of that story on my publisher’s blog, journeystomotherlove.com. Happy Mother’s Day!

Journeys To Mother Love

Step-mother-love-01 I was nine years old when my parents divorced. I’ll never forget that day. After hearing the news, I ran into the woods behind our house and cried my eyes out. “Why? Why? Why?” I cried to God.

Those repressed memories surfaced a while back in a therapy session as I got in touch with the little Ardis who was hurting from the trauma of this event. I’ve processed this before, but this time I remembered something new. I remembered that I told my father I hated him. It became one of those pivotal moments in my life when I decided I had to be a BIG girl and stuff my emotions.

I surfaced from those woods, calm and collected. I WAS a big girl. But try as I might, that anger at what was going on between my parents was still there. Both of my parents soon remarried. I lived…

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Leading With Love

Weddings are a time of great celebration, excitement, and hope for a beautiful future—a fairy tale ending.  Brides often enter into marriage dreaming of living happily ever after.  However, the national divorce statistics tell us a different story.  If you are part of that statistic, or currently not romantically involved, I imagine you dread Valentine’s Day.

Broken marriage heartThe Reality of Marriage

Serving as a leader in a local Celebrate Recovery (CR) ministry, I get a chance to hear a lot of testimonies and people’s life stories—male and female.  Many of the women who come to CR are either divorced or have had a history of marital struggles.  But hey, don’t go thinking that I am getting a distorted view of society.  Marital heartache and misery are much more common than you think.

The people who show up at CR are choosing to take off their masks and come out of denial about it.  They are generally the fortunate ones.  Not because of their painful past, but because they are seeking help and healing.  In time, they generally become grateful for those struggles because it made them stronger.  Romans 8:28 becomes real to them, often for the first time:  “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” (NIV)

These women (and men) are taking steps to get emotionally healthy, deal with their past baggage, learn to set healthy boundaries, take care of their needs, and live life more fully—regardless of their past.  They are on a journey of self-discovery, with or without a spouse or partner.

If they’ve been in recovery for a while, they can even laugh about the process—making light that their people picker is broken.  I’ve seen it over and over again as people attract the exact kind of romantic partner that will lead to the same negative relationship patterns.  They may decide they want a relationship, thinking they are ready again, or they may be willing to settle.

WARNING—more heartache ahead!

Children of divorceA Legacy of Divorce

Let’s face it relationships are hard work, and marriage is the hardest because we spend most of our time with our spouse.  If we come from a family background where divorce was part of our heritage, we may quickly look to that as an escape clause—thinking it is normal. In my case, my parents had a combined ten marriages between them.  They were on marriages #2 and #4 when my siblings and I were born.  I swore I wouldn’t do that to my kids.  Thankfully I didn’t.  It doesn’t have to be part of our legacy.

I understand the heartache of divorce.  I understand the devastation and painful wake that it leaves behind for the families.  I’ve felt the blame and shame of it.  I brought a lot of that same baggage into my marriage.  It has only been since I entered recovery a decade ago that I’ve seen how much it affected me—my behaviors and my underlying fear of rejection and abandonment.

Heart in handLeading with Love

I’ve had lots of restoration and healing in my marriage over the years.  I don’t lead from a place of having it all together.  I lead from a place of brokenness, knowing how hard it is, and continuing to struggle in the process.  I know God has given me kisses of love from Above, and in my marriage, so that I can impart hope to others who are seeking a Godly marriage.*  I lead with Love, because He first loved me. (1 John 4:19)

As we celebrate Valentine’s Day, I encourage you to look for ways that you can appreciate your spouse, even in the midst of your struggles.  If you are not married, don’t let the Valentine blues get to you.  Have some fun with a friend or show someone else you care in a non-romantic way.

Who says Valentine’s Day is for lovers?  Make it for love!  You can lead the way!

*This post is dedicated to and inspired by my friends who are in the throes of a strained marital relationship.

This post is listed on Christian Mommy Blogger/Fellowship Fridays and Missional Women/Faith Filled Friday.

The Road to Spain, Update 4 ~ Mental Readiness

As the countdown calendar on my blog has turned to days (28 as of today) until I arrive in Spain, I feel the pressure mounting to get things done.  I have struggled with an internal battle in my mind—highs and lows—that leave me emotionally exhausted and stressed.

Immersing in the language

Immersing in the language

I suppose it’s only natural considering that I’m short on funds for the trip, wrapping up a challenging high school transition year for my son, and making decisions for a major remodel project on our home that will take place while I’m gone.  It has been hard to put all of that aside and cling to the joy that awaits me in Spain.

Over these last several months, the Lord has stripped me of so many expectations.  It started with the cancellation of a side trip to France to share my testimony.  Then there was the letting go of my desire to speak in Spain.  Last week I had another reality check when I realized that the Spanish Ebook for “Walking My Mother Home” won’t be ready in time.

As painful as those realizations have been, letting go of those expectations is allowing me to focus more on preparing my body, mind, and spirit for the trip.  (See my last Spain update for how I am preparing my body.)

Immersing in the country

Immersing in the country

Immersing my Mind

The biggest task to preparing mentally is to learn Spanish.  Although I took two years of Spanish in high school (way too many years ago), I knew re-learning would be difficult.  I hate having to rely so heavily on this family being my constant translator.  (Lo siento, Pedro.)  Besides that, the last week of my trip I’m on my own.  Regardless of how much I learn by June 24th, I am hoping that being immersed in the language and culture for six weeks will allow the language to just sink in to some degree.

I’ve also been immersing myself in the music, and reading about Spain in my spare time.  My love of Spanish music started three years ago after a gift of CDs from Pedro’s family.  My family has long since tired of hearing them, but not me.  I can almost sing the lyrics myself, but I have no idea what they mean.

Immersing in the music

Immersing in the music

Another way I am preparing for this trip is to de-clutter my mind.  I turned off the audible email alerts on my smart phone.  Unfortunately, I noticed I had an unnerving habit of checking my phone for messages.  (Can anyone relate to that?)  So last week, I unsubscribed to virtually every email list that I was on.  I was shocked to see that I had over 50 bloggers and marketing companies bombarding me with email.

The last piece of immersion I will do over the next few weeks is to re-read parts of my journal and emails during the time that Rosa and I first started to communicate.  I want to be in a frame of mind that makes those memories easy to access so Rosa and I can talk about it.  But if the story immersion doesn’t happen, I’ll need to let go of those expectations as well.

It’s a First!28 Days to Spain

This trip is the trip of a lifetime for me.  At times I fear it may be my only trip to Spain and try to pack in everything I can possibly think of to do or to prepare.  (My day job used to be as a project manager, by the way.)  Other times I am in such awe of how God has orchestrated this relationship and can’t imagine there not being future trips or a full-length book being published. That is the essence of the war that seems to be going on in my mind.

I know my mind will be at ease by the time I step off that plane.  My challenge for the next 28 days is to remember that regardless of whether or not there are future trips to Spain or what gets done in advance, there will never be the anticipation for my first trip to Spain or the first time I meet Rosa.  That is what I need to hold onto over the next four weeks.  That, and lots of prayer are the best defense for my mental readiness for Spain.

Suffering in the Body | By Kim Amrine | Guest Post

About 2½ years ago, a light bulb came on for me.  I was re-reading Dr. Cloud and Townsend’s book, “How People Grow.” Dr. Cloud posed a question to a group of experienced pastors, “If you had to arm your parishioners with protection from sin, how would you do it?  What do you think is the best armor you could wear?”  They had many ideas, but ultimately he pointed them to 1 Peter 4:1:  “Therefore, since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourself also with the same attitude, because whoever suffers in the body is done with sin.”(NIV)

 Caught in the Cycle

“Oh,” I said to myself, “this isn’t going to be pretty.”  I had been in relapse in my food addiction for a year or two, after some good abstinence for a few years.  I had just completed a one year healing/recovery group and learned what mother’s and father’s roles are, and what they should provide for their children.  I had stepped out of denial and started the grief process over the holes of parenting that were in my family of origin, including being the child of two alcoholic parents.

I was attending 12-step recovery meetings regularly, journaling, reaching out to others over the phone, and none of it was working.  A friend and mentor reminded me, “You are in the process of insanity—doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.”

Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. Matthew 16:24 TNIV

Embracing the Pain

My relapse into food addiction and my internal pain brought me back into the therapeutic process, this time with a very seasoned and astute therapist.  It was here that I realized the only way to healing was to go through the pain.  I couldn’t minimize it, avoid it, rationalize it, or medicate it away using food.  These defenses were no longer working for me.

 The last 2 years I have been grieving a myriad of losses, deaths if you will—loss of my childhood, loss of the parents I thought I had, but didn’t, loss of many positive experiences in my marriage, loss of physical health and loss of internal peace because of my past.  I have denied, protested in anger, and cried until I thought the tears would never end. I know there are still more to come.

Letting Christ Transform Your Pain into Healing

Why do I bother doing this?  Because as one of my pastors recently said, “If we don’t let Christ transform our pain, we will transmit it.”  If I don’t enter into the healing process, my pain will either be turned inward – food addiction, depression – or transmitted and turned outward, projecting my unprocessed feelings onto those I love and care for.  My heart’s desire is to leave a positive legacy to those who enter my life and sphere of influence.

Jesus never promised an easy walk.  “In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 (NKJV) Out of death and dying comes resurrection and life.  I count on Jesus and the cross he bore, (and the cross that I am bearing now) to bring me through to a resurrected life.  I know that as I continue to grieve the losses of my childhood, that there will be new life on the other side.  And I don’t mean in heaven; I mean a resurrected life here on earth.

I have already experienced some of the fruit of this process of recovery and in my faith journey.  I am just going a little deeper now.  The Lord will redeem my losses, “I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten.” Joel 2:25 (TNIV) There will be redemption on the other side of my season of grief.  He is faithful and I can count on it.

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Kim & Ardis

Kim & Ardis

Kim Amrine is a grateful Believer who is passionate about healing and recovery.  She serves as Ministry Leader of Celebrate Recovery at Pine Lake Covenant Church in Sammamish, Washington, where she has led a number of groups.   Her other passions are being a wife of 37 years to Jerry, mom to two adult children, and working as a physical therapist.

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Note from Ardis ~ I’ve been blessed to walk alongside Kim and witness her courageous journey of spiritual and emotional healing.  She is a true model of vulnerability and taking the risks required to break free from past hurts, habits and hang-ups.

Thank you Kim for sharing your story of perseverance.  I hope her story encourages you or someone you know to walk through the pain, to the other side, and turn healing into hope.

Naughty or Nice in the New Year?

 As the year comes to a close and I start to think about 2013, I have been pondering what I need to change in my life.  The question that keeps coming to mind is have I been “naughty or nice” this past year.

Naughty or Nice?I had a good Christmas with my immediate family and friends.  2012 was an amazing year which fast-tracked me into the publishing industry.  There is no room for complaining.  All of this points to being “nice”.  (There are times I certainly don’t think I deserved it.)

However, my body is telling me otherwise.  It is fatigued.  It is sore.  My mind is mush.  I am emotionally and physically spent.  I can’t seem to bounce back like I thought I would.  I have been “naughty”—to my body—and it won’t cooperate with me.  A quick review of the past year brings the whys glaringly into my face.

A Busy Year

In January, I took on the role of trainer on the launch team of my church’s Celebrate Recovery ministry.  A few weeks later, my manuscript was accepted.  I continued in my ministry role despite significant obstacles for much of the year.  I also stepped down from my part-time responsibilities at my husband’s business.

I worked with the publisher to edit and market the book.  I launched my website, created my own marketing materials for the book and held an Open House in the fall.  In November, I devoted my time to NaNoWriMo and writing six chapters and over 30,000 words on my memoir.  On top of all this, I dealt with the passing of my father, the start of menopause and the search for answers to my son’s academic struggles in school.

I Am Not Invincible

What I tend to forget, because I hide it so well, is that I also have chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), multiple chemical sensitivity (MCS) and fibromyalgia (FMS).  I’ve had them for years and am pretty good at keeping it a bay, if I listen to my body and take precautions.  (I went on medical leave from my job five years ago due to an environmental exposure and haven’t worked full-time since.)

With the physical drain comes mental fatigue and hence, my writing is also suffering.  I don’t want this blog to become my random thoughts on my life.  I want it to be a place of inspiration and transformation.  But in order to model vulnerability, I also need to acknowledge this bump in the road.

What Now?

I haven’t lost sight of who is in control of my life or that I have free will in it.  I know He is going to use this to help me refine my character and look to Him for answers on how He wants to use me.

Self Care Reminder2013 has so much potential for me with my trip to Spain and hopefully a side trip to speak in Paris.  Those are things I never dreamed possible.  For me to do them I need to re-evaluate my lifestyle, return to my spiritual and recovery disciplines and invest in some self-care.  I know God will reveal to me what is most important and He will transform my heart to accept His will in all this.  I am a grateful Believer and a recovering workaholic who struggles with pace of life.  (I needed that reminder.)

What about you?  Have you been naughty or nice this past year?  Which will you choose in 2013?  What are you going to do to change and move forward?

To Persevere or Let Go?

My family started geocaching a few years ago.  Geocaching is a recreational activity that uses a GPS to go on treasure hunts all over the world.  It has been a great pastime that allows us to take in the sights, get some exercise and explore places we never would’ve gone before.   (See gecocaching.com for more information.)

After church on Sunday, my husband and I took advantage of a glorious sunny afternoon in the Pacific Northwest to go on the hunt for a few local geocaches.  We hadn’t eaten lunch and we didn’t have a lot of time, but we ventured to a nearby park to make what we thought were some easy “finds”.  (That’s geocaching lingo for having found the hidden treasure.)  We thought these would be easy finds because geocaches are rated for their level of difficulty to find and the level of the difficulty of the terrain.  This was a “1” on both scales.

Geocropmom, aka Ardis Nelson, with a typical geocaching container.

We reviewed the online log entries from the previous geocachers to get some insight and clues for the hunt.  Their entries mentioned blackberry bushes and suggested long sleeves and pants, but that didn’t deter us for the hunt.  We pulled out our gloves from the geocaching backpack we keep in the car, thinking that would be sufficient to avoid getting scratched and poked, but cloth gloves are no match for full grown blackberry bushes.

After at least 40 minutes of searching in and around the blackberry bushes, we finally gave up the hunt.  So much for easy.  We logged the dreaded “DNF” (did not find) on the webpage for this geocache.  Ouch!  I hate those—and then to admit it online for everyone to see—how embarrassing.

“DNF”, it’s giving up.  It feels like defeat.  It seems like failure.  When is enough, enough?  I am not a quitter.  When the going gets tough, I keep going—often times beyond what is reasonable.  When it comes to something I am passionate about, it is especially hard to let go.

So move on we did.  By this time I am hungry, thirsty and my feet hurt.  Did I mention I was not in walking shoes?  But I was encouraged by my husband to go on the next hunt.  It’s only .2 miles away, he said.  I agreed to go.  After all, I didn’t want to end the day with a “DNF” on my geocaching profile.  We ended our outing with two successful hunts or finds.

I share all of this not to give a lesson in geocaching, but to provide food for thought on the challenges in life.  Unfortunately, we don’t get a rating scale of difficulty or terrain that we will encounter on our travels.  We can take a personal risk assessment based on our past experiences, our own abilities or wise counsel from others who have travelled a similar path.

In geocaching, as in life, you sometimes have to decide it’s time to move on to the next challenge.  In doing so, we need encouragement for the journey, like my husband gave me, and the stamina to persevere.  We also need to learn when to let go.

One last thought you might be wondering about related to the “DNF”—why would one post that online for all to see?  It is to help other geocachers who will follow you on the hunt.  That is like our journey too.  It is ok to admit defeat.  It can help others on the journey to self-discovery.  It does not need to define us.  After all, Jesus tells us in John 16:33: “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace.  In this world you will have trouble.  But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (NIV)

  • WELCOME to my site!

    I'm an author, writer, speaker, mentor & mom. I've struggled to find my voice all my life as I lived in the shadows of a mother with mental illness. Thankfully that was not the legacy that she handed down to me. It took a lot of recovery and deep healing work to rise above it.

    I am thankful to God for Making Me Bold in the process. Now I use my writing and speaking voice to help others on their journey to turn healing into hope.

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    Arrival on Spanish SoilApril 29th, 2018
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